August 15, 2000 -- Most of these movies about the events surrounding Armageddon and other "end-of-days" prophecies tend to be dark, grim, depressing affairs, in which the power of God is seldom seen, but the power of the devil is all too apparent. "Bless the Child" is the first film I've seen in a long time which balances things out. In fact, it puts religion in a positive light, something seldom seen in movies nowadays.
"Bless the Child" is a movie about a child, Cody O'Connor, born with fantastic powers to heal and to bring faith back into the world, or the child could be turned to the dark side as it were, to become a great force for evil. If this sounds familiar, it should, it is the same plot as the one in an Eddie Murphy movie called "Golden Child." O.K., it is also similar to some "Star Wars" movies.
In "Golden Child," Eddie Murphy plays an ordinary man chosen to save the golden child from those who would corrupt him. In this film, that task falls to the child's grandmother, Maggie O'Connor, played by Kim Basinger of "L.A. Confidential." Basinger raises the child after Cody is left on her doorstep by her mother, Jenna O'Connor (played by Angela Bettis). She is unaware, at first, of the child's special powers, or of the evil forces searching for the girl. Soon, however, there are break-ins and car chases and bad guys chasing the girl all over the place.There's a Mulder-like FBI agent, John Travis (played by Jimmy Smits) who has divinity school training. He understands the Watchers who have been waiting for the child and he knows their plans. There's a bit of detective work in the film, including use of an alternate light source to find evidence. We also have the usual variety of killings by the bad guys. In this case the bad guys are a Satanic cult disguised as a self-help organization.
Christina Ricci appears in the film briefly as a cult member who has quit the group. Fans of Ricci will be disappointed that her part in the film, although key, lasts only a few minutes. The movie is effective, in part because of the fine performances of Basinger, Smits, Bettis and child actor Coleman. The script, based on the Cathy Cash Spellman novel and Thomas Rickman, is solid, but fairly predictable. The direction by Chuck Russell is taut. The special effects are adequate. This film rates a B.
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